Researcher Brian Wansink, relays some important findings about how Americans eat in his book Mindless Eating. Through Wansink’s experiments (some rather funny, like the ever filling soup bowl) researchers determined that basically, if there’s food in sight- we’ll eat it, the bigger the food container, the more we’ll eat out of it, and if the food keeps coming, we’ll keep on eating.
Everyone is born a “mindful eater.” A child normally stops eating when their stomach is full. As we grow older we learn to eat for reasons other than hunger and to follow other cues when it comes to stopping. When we make food choices based on habits or emotions, whether it be boredom, stress, or sadness, we can end up eating more than our bodies actually need.
Food is everywhere and if you’re not skilled at passing it by sometimes, it’s bound to end up as unwanted weight gain. Whether it’s in your office or your own home, fight back against mindless eating by setting a few rules for yourself.
Start by eating on a better schedule. Eat sensibly and drink water at set intervals throughout the day. Most people need to eat every four hours. Chaotic eaters don’t make time for regular meals and then overeat when they do take time to eat.
Set a specific time for 1 snack between meals if you need it. Watch the clock or set an alarm on your phone for snack time. Until then, look forward to eating, drink a big glass of water and tough it out for another 30 minutes or an hour until you can have that one snack. When snack time does come, check with your stomach and see if you are actually physically hungry. Get comfortable with not eating as an activity.
Hide food from yourself. If you are prone to eating just because food is available, having tempting foods in sight will make it much more likely for an overindulgence to occur. Ditch the candy jar, doughnut box, or big plastic tub of pretzels in the office. If you don’t see it you won’t want it as much.
If you’re going to bring a treat to work, bring one portion, not the entire bag. Keeping your favorites in your desk can be really tempting if you’re trying to avoid a deadline or are stressed out. If you’re not getting anything done anyway, take a brief walk to get refreshed rather than grabbing another snack.
Never eat out of a box of…..fill in the blank. Maybe for you its crackers, or cookies, or M & M’s, or even dried fruit. The bottom line is --don’t eat directly out of a food container that contains multiple servings. If your brain sees more food it’s not as likely to cue you to stop. Snacking does not lead to weight loss if you’re eating more than what your body needs. Get out a set portion and hide the rest away for later.
Focus on today’s eating. Many people indulge today, justifying the choice and saying that tomorrow will be different or the “diet” starts next week. Cutting down on mindless eating today can help your health tomorrow.